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Breakfast on the Go: Providing Healthy Options to Start the Day

May 19, 2014

bfastsmoothieIt’s no secret that breakfast is the most important meal of the day for you and your family. You need the fuel and energy to chase around those toddlers, and your little ones need the energy to fuel their brains and stimulate their interest in play.

When you are a nanny for a busy family or carting your kids from one activity to the next, it is challenging to grab a healthy meal before you head out the door. In fact, according to Bridget Swinney, Texas-based registered dietitian and author of Healthy Food for Healthy Kids, eating on the run is challenging because most convenience food is high in sodium, fat and preservatives.

Before grabbing a doughnut or pastry for the carpool ride, consider these convenient breakfast foods that travel well and add a healthy punch to your family’s morning routine.

On-the-Go Healthy Routines

One of the best ways to offer healthy breakfast options is to plan ahead. Snack-sized bags filled with fruits, vegetables and nut medleys can offer the nutrition all of you need to get your day started, but it may be too tempting to grab a sugary option or bag of cereal to satisfy the little ones if you’re rushed to pack and feed in the morning.

Instead of rushing, spend your afternoon or evening chopping up fruits and veggies to provide your kids with a bag or travel bowl of grapes, kiwi and baby carrots. According to Swinney, cuties are packed full of vitamin C and easy to peel in seconds while grapes offer antioxidants and fiber. Kiwi will offer a potassium boost and daily doses of vitamin C and fiber, plus the fruit is easy to eat with a spoon on the go. Baby carrots, often a kid favorite, are ready to eat and provide your children with both fiber and vitamin A.

For a protein-packed breakfast, consider the health benefits of nuts. Swinney recommends walnuts, almonds, pecans and pistachios for an extra special nutrient punch in the morning. Mix up a bag of nuts and sunflower seeds in the morning to fuel your children on the way to school. This snack is ideal for school-aged children, but may not be the best option for little ones since nuts can be a choking hazard.

You can also mix up your routine a bit by preparing homemade trail mixes. “Grab a Ziploc bag, add cheerios or other whole grain, kid-friendly cereal, nuts, sunflower seeds, raisins, tiny pretzel twists, dried cherries or blueberries,” suggests Swinney. “Because you control the ingredients, you can make it gluten-free or nut-free to meet specific diet needs.”

If you have a little extra time in the morning, opt for breakfast burritos. Scrambled eggs in a corn or whole grain tortilla offer a breakfast feast that is convenient, says Swinney. “You can add veggies to the eggs, such as onion and bell pepper, and top with salsa and avocado,” she says. “This one can be easily taken ‘to go’ and is a perfectly balanced meal with smart carbs, protein and veggies.”

Another quick option is the coffee cup scramble. Mix eggs, a dash of milk and a sprinkle of cheese and herbs and microwave for one and a half minutes in a to-go coffee cup, stirring halfway through cooking time, suggests Swinney. “Of course, you can add other healthy ingredients, like veggies, fresh basil, salsa and whatever else strikes your fancy,” she says.

Keeping healthy, bite-sized snacks packed for breakfast and mid-day snacks will also help fuel your family for the day. “Low-fat string cheese and yogurt pack a super-nutrient punch including protein, calcium, vitamin D, potassium, magnesium and others,” says Swinney. Whole grain crackers or baked tortilla chips are also kid-friendly, healthy options.

Healthy options for breakfast can also come in liquid form. Kate Myerson, registered dietitian with Vtrim, an online healthy weight management program, recommends a fruit smoothie with Greek yogurt. “Add six ounces of low fat Greek yogurt to one and a half cups of frozen fruit in a blender and add enough low-fat milk or fruit juice to cover the frozen fruit – and blend,” says Myerson. “Pour the smoothie into a to-go cup and grab it on your way out the door the next morning. The protein from the yogurt and fiber in the fruit will keep you full and the carbohydrate in the fruit and the milk or juice will give you the energy you need.”

The key to eating a healthy breakfast is to pace yourself and your family, says Myerson. “Don’t try to change everything at once. Pick one new thing to try that will give you the confidence to take on the next,” she says. “And, give your family a chance to adjust to the changes.”


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